On Wednesday, Philip Speirs was sentenced to eight years in jail on kidnapping and rape charges, despite telling the court that he committed the crime because he had been bitten by a spider. Speirs told the court that he had been bitten by a poisonous funnel-web spider 12 days before the crime, and had been treated for the bite, and possible viral meningitis, at a hospital.
The only problem with the spider-bite defense: the complete lack of any medical evidence suggesting that a spider bite could be responsible for rage or anger.
At least, that’s what the toxicologist who testified for the prosecution claimed.
Spiers does not appear to have put on any contrary evidence, despite the existence of lengthy film footage depicting a spider bite contributing to erratic and bizarre conduct, occasional angry or violent activity, and poor judgment calls such as appearing in vastly inferior movie sequels.
Even if it could cause rage or anger, there is a long list of things that a spider bite is highly unlikely to explain, like stalking someone, drugging them, assaulting them, locking them in the trunk, making detailed plans to avoid capture, and (except for very rare African species) using another person’s ATM card to take money out of their bank account. Accordingly, the judge concluded that Speirs had not committed the crime because he was bitten by a spider, but rather because he wanted to have sex.
Speirs had pleaded guilty to the crime, but the judge refused to reduce his sentence because of the bite claim. He got a minimum of six years in jail without parole.